• This topic has 82 replies, 42 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by ahsat.
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  • Which ‘extreme country’ (or other marketing BS) FS?
  • ahsat
    Full Member

    Who knows if extreme country is a thing (I might have been reading too many Tallboy reviews) but I guess in some respects it’s a good headline for what I’m looking for.

    I’ve not really ridden a FS since busting my knee in a 2017 (mentally went off riding super techy/steep trails) and last year sold my Banshee Spitfire which had been gathering dust, instead spending my time on my Stanton Sherpa, which I absolutely love.

    A 40+ mile mtb ride over Airedale, Calderdale and wider Pennines over the weekend is making me think there is room for the right FS in my life. Looking for something that compliments and extends the Sherpa, that can do big xc/trail-light days out in Northern England (Dales, NYM, Lakes, Peaks), Quantocks, North Wales, Scotland; but still be a laugh for an hour or two round Ilkley Moor. I only occasionally ride trail centres, generally keep my wheels on the ground (no interest in compulsory drops, doubles, gaps!). Must be able to climb well, be efficient and comfortable (like a steel HT – hahaha!) and not weigh a tonne! Budget up to £5000, and no motor required.  Ideally 29er for the rolling ability, and 120-140 mm fork range.

    Been taking a serious look a Santa Cruz Tallboy (I will go and get a demo at Stif). Some of the reviews that say it only really works for those who can ride really aggressively concern me – I can get down stuff (I’ve been only riding HT for years!) but I’m not aggressive! And the two people I do know with them have been former DH riders. Anyone riding a v4/v5 – how are you finding it?

    What else does the STW hive mind recommend?

    stanley
    Full Member

    I was going to suggest a Tallboy in response to your post’s title.

    I’ve done loads of miles on my V4 and I’m just building up my new V5 (the V4 developed slight play in the top headset mount: SC replaced the frame with the latest model without quibble). I can comment on the V4 but have not yet ridden the V5. Tbf, I can’t see it being much different, although the in-frame storage is nice to have.

    The V4: Best full suspension bike I ever rode (typically longer Peak District stuff, although I’ve done several 2-day, 100 mile+ bikepacking missions on it). It’s light enough, agile and stable. The rear feels like it has much more than 120mm of travel: firm yet plush (I know!). It climbs brilliantly and I descend faster on it than my longer travel bikes. The suspension bearings remained smooth, Internal tubes means cables are easy to change. It’s ace 🙂

    I did change the fork travel to 140mm as I wanted to run with more sag.
    The only negative that I experienced was where the cables exit the front of the frame (Almost from the headtube). This makes for smooth cable angles, but a pain to mount a ‘bar bag.

    Can’t wait to get my V5 built up. Just waiting for some of the new Reserve alloys to arrive 🙂

    Alex
    Full Member

    When I was looking for something similar, I did research the Tallboy, but based on reviews didn’t go for it. Went a bit left field – Revel Rascal 140/130 climbs brilliantly, fab all round trail bike. Only issue really is 2.4 is about the most you can go in the back.

    Think mine weighs about 30lb with 2.6/2.3 tyres. There’s a demo down here (South Wales) which might not be ideal if you’re close to Stif.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    How do you feel about Orange? Because their Stage Evo might be exactly what you want.

    I’ve had the Stage 4 for a few years (slacked out a bit) and it’s fast, engaging, fun and on par with some carbon bikes for weight. I’d say it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t want to lose too much of the connection to the ground you get from a hardtail.

    I’m just selling the Stage 4 frame actually, in case you’re M/L sized and fancy trying a cheap build.

    TheFlyingOx
    Full Member

    I’ve beefed mine up to a 160mm fork but I’m having A LOT of fun on my Canfield Tilt. Normally 130-140mm fork. Not sure about distributors in the UK but I didn’t pay a huge amount to import my Tilt frame & CC Kitsuma Air shock: was maybe £2300 delivered. That would leave plenty for a Pike and some nice carbon wheels.

    MSP
    Full Member

    Have a look at the orbea occam, it is in the sweet spot of geometry IMO of being a trail bike that is capable descending, without being a short travel downhill bike.

    davros
    Full Member

    I was going to suggest the occam. It’s a brilliant all rounder and there’s no disadvantage to having a bit of extra travel with 140mm both ends. It’s very efficient when pedalling with the lockout on. And you’ll get a much better spec for your money than a Santa Cruz if buying new.

    whatyadoinsucka
    Free Member

    /\ dont get an orbea occam, had nothing but trouble with it, :0) , great bike and climbs well, if only the back end didnt wobble all over a couple of rides after having new bearings fitted.

    i demo’d a megatower and a tallboy at the last stif demo day, the tallboy felt great uphill, and very lively like my old mk2 5010. the megatower on the other hand was a bit meh. would be better for uplifts / alps. I wasnt keen

    if you have the money the smaller Yeti FS would do the job, my friend rides the sb130 and its very capable.

    HobNob
    Free Member

    if you have the money the smaller Yeti FS would do the job, my friend rides the sb130 and its very capable.

    Even by Yeti’s (extremely) questionable reliability, the short travel one was even more unreliable than the others, which is quite the achievement.

    The Tallboy, I think if it’s your one bike, it’s probably a good one, but lightweight, they are not. If you want something light & efficient, there are plenty of other bikes out there which don’t weigh as much as a trail bike & are just as capable.

    If you’re stuck in the Talloy world, you might as well look at the Optic, Smuggler, Following, Spectral, etc – which are all short travel trail bikes.

    If you want something a step lighter (yet just as capable, having ridden a few of the above): Epic Evo, Spur, Element, Top Fuel, new Spark, etc.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    In the spirit of recommending what I own, Vitus? I’ve got an Escarpe CR which pedals better than any* 140/150mm travel 29er has any right to. So either a Mythique or an Escarpe and a £3500 holiday. Only downside is it’s weight, it’s not noticeable while riding weight, but it is ~34lb for the CR (Deore, Z2’s, aluminium rear end).

    I’ve never liked SC bikes, the VPP always felt like riding with a knackered shock so can’t comment on the Tallboy.

    *possibly no better than a lot of other modern bikes, but like you I had a 10 year gap between FS’s during which I just had a handful of disappointing test rides.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    I get the impression the OP is after a light & fast short-travel shred sled, rather than a 140mm bike like the Occam.

    If you’re stuck in the Talloy world, you might as well look at the Optic, Smuggler, Following, Spectral, etc – which are all short travel trail bikes.

    If you want something a step lighter (yet just as capable, having ridden a few of the above): Epic Evo, Spur, Element, Top Fuel, new Spark, etc.

    e.g. the latter set of bikes here, to which I’d add an Orange obvs 😉

    YT Izzo might be worth a look as well. It’s 130mm travel but apparently very lively.

    davros
    Full Member

    @whatyadoinsucka was that the Alu or carbon occam? The only issue I’ve had with maintenance on mine was removing the retaining ring on the NDS chainstay bearing which is a bit tricky but got there in the end. Oh and removing the linkage assembly required some serious force with a slide hammer. But all bearings changed fine and no play whatsoever.

    Did you find where the play was coming from?

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    Most of the so-called ‘Downcountry’ bikes are very capable on rough ground. You might get pinged about a bit more than on something with a bit more squish, but I’ve ridden my Orbea Oiz in the Lakes with no real issue, and for its day-to-day job in the Dales, it’s very light and climbs extremely well, plus has a lockout for the inevitable flat track/road sections.

    dumbbot
    Free Member

    Hi, What about Rocky Mountain Element ?…I’ve no experience with it specially, but it would be what i’d buy. I had a Swarf contour in a similar vain and it was really capable, the Element makes it lighter faster and the Geo looks spot on. I’d love one of these in the shed, they look like a hoot!

    https://www.paulscycles.co.uk/bikes/mountain-bikes/rocky-mountain-element-a50-mountain-bike-2022-orangeorange__9116

    ahsat
    Full Member

    Thanks all. Lots of things to look at 🙂 To clarify I’m not looking for a xc race machine, or that said an enduro/LT trail rig (hence the 140 mm max fork travel). Something that is good to ride for 30-50 miles over the horizon (probably the odd bikepack-light) and is comfortable, efficient (like my HT!) and able to deal with whatever is down the next trail (where my HT runs out a bit; but I’m not afraid/ashamed to walk super tech!). The easier Lakeland/Scotland passes are at upper end of what I ride.  This will be my only FS, and I’ll be definitely keeping the Sherpa (which has definitely proven to me what a 120 mm ‘downcountry’ bike is capable of!).

    ehrob
    Full Member

    If you’ve got deep pockets a pivot trail 429 would fit the bill.

    DT78
    Free Member

    How about the non rc version of the spark. Very fast bikes.

    dumbbot
    Free Member

    If you wanted steel what about a Cotic Flare Max?

    https://www.cotic.co.uk/product/flareMAX

    But I’d standby my Rocky Element suggestion, 65° head angle its not an XC bike…and would be much more fun on longer rides I reckon.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Sounds like the sort of thing my Occam is used for, including the “backpacking-light” part. I used mine on the Cairngorms Loop, glad of the suspension as fatigue sets in, especially riding in the dark.

    I did a full bearing change on it last Winter no problem

    submarined
    Free Member

    I bought an Izzo a few months ago and fitted a load of other parts like some Hunt XC Wides and a carbon bar. It’s only mid level spec, but I’m very rapidly falling in love with it.
    Have done a fair few short rides, and did an event in Wales with it at the weekend, with reasonably steep accents and a few slightly rocky downs. It was a blast. Really comfortable and stable, easy to pedal up, and a whole load of fun on the downs. Would recommend.

    ahsat
    Full Member

    Hummm (work today is not going well – too much googling!). I like the look of the Izzo and Spur. The headtube angle on both is 1 degree slacker than my Sherpa. Obviously with the benefit of rear suspension, but I’m wondering if it means it is not bringing a lot of ‘benefit’ over what I’ve already got (duplication v extension!), whereas the Element and Tallboy are 2 degrees slacker (though I have just spotted the crazy short seat stays on the Tallboy (405 v 435 on my Sherpa which might be interesting on longer rides!)).

    submarined
    Free Member

    Sag will add on a good few degrees to your Sherpa. Not such a big thing on a full suss.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    Not sure if Stanton give geo at sag point, this will steepen as you sit on it if not.
    Regardless, on a hardtail the bike will steepen further as you compress the suspension down through its travel, a full suss wont; so they will ride differently, even with the same or similar head angle.

    Transition Spur would be my suggestion.

    ahsat
    Full Member

    Good points re sag – thanks

    And regarding the Orange – good spec on paper, like the British thing, just really struggle to get excited by the look.

    stumpy01
    Full Member

    I keep looking at the Canyon Spectral 125 for this sort of thing.
    Can’t really justify a new bike, so…..meh, but reckon it would be a good option for a lot of UK riding.

    HobNob
    Free Member

    Having had a Spur & now having got an Element (my other half decided she took a fancy to the Spur, so pinched it) I can say the Element is a weird/clever blend of the efficiency of the Spur (which isn’t outright XC race whippet, but not far from) when going up and the Tallboy on the way down. It’s slightly more muted, as it’s not a flex stay, so less pingy when its fast & rough.

    I’ve had mine for coming up 6 months now, and its my most ridden bike, by far, which is good, as my Spur was my most ridden bike before. I’d go so far as to say if I was ever in a position to only have one bike, the Element would be it (with 2 sets of wheels).

    It’s done 100km off-road rides from my doorstep, general trail riding, Welsh valley steeps & even a bit of enduro racing. As much as I hate the marketing guff of the bike world, for those of us who don’t want to be off road roadies, the new breed of downcountry bikes are brilliant 🙂

    kiwijohn
    Full Member

    Get another Banshee.

    The V3.2 Phantom would be perfect, or step up to a Prime.

    Weight depends how you build it, but the KS2 suspension design works brilliantly.

    prontomonto
    Full Member

    As someone else mentioned, Canyon Spectral 125 is very good for this sort of riding. It is very good value and tends to be discounted more frequently than their longer travel version. I got the alu one 2 months ago and love it, was amazed how well it climbs despite being very heavy – the geometry is perfect. Carbon one would be even better. I thought I would still choose the XC bike for longer rides but am very happy to take the Spectral.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    And regarding the Orange – good spec on paper, like the British thing, just really struggle to get excited by the look.

    Fair dos, I love the look of them and the way they blend form & function – but I’m aware some people are just reminded of filing cabinets 😀

    sgn23
    Free Member

    I went to the Canyon Demo day at the FoD at the weekend. I had my eye on a Spectral CF8, but I was most impressed with the Canyon Neuron CF 9, which fits the criteria of what the OP is looking for. Light and fast with good handling on the downhills. A bike you can ride all day in the hills or do bike park reds on.
    It’s a new frame spec for 2023 which has fixed the negatives of the past model and made it more modern geo. £3849 for full carbon frame and wheels and XT components and Fox dampers is pretty good money these days.

    SirHC
    Full Member

    I was looking at replacing my Smuggler, availability and reliability were pretty high up on the list after having two shit experiences on two other bikes.

    Had a short list:

    -Spur, couldln’t buy one and was between sizes
    -Izzo, wasn’t keen on the direct to consumer, didn’t want a full bike either
    -Top Fuel, odd seat tube angle, always felt like I was too far back when seated
    -Epic Evo, sitll a bit too xc for me

    Ended up on a Stumpjumper Sworks, 26lbs on xc tyres. Pretty much the same geometry as my old xwing enduro. Really impressed with how it goes uphill and downhill. 1900miles on it so far in the year I’ve had it, zero issues and it flies along, even more so on silly low tread xc tyres.

    On offer at spesh at the moment too: https://www.specializedconceptstore.co.uk/product/59522/2022-stumpjumper-expert/

    davros
    Full Member

    I really want to try the new stumpy. Nearly bought one when they were selling those green sworks frames with a big discount. But instead I went the other way and bought a flaremax.

    alan1977
    Free Member

    what kiwijohn said
    if you liked your spitfire, get a phantom
    i personally adore my spitfire

    Gribs
    Full Member

    I’d be looking at a Carbon Wasp Truffle. 120mm of travel, modern geometry and hand made in Yorkshire.

    northersouth
    Free Member

    Banshee Phantom gets excellent reviews and is currently discounted till June (£1.7k with headset, shock etc.)

    That’s what I would get.

    ahsat
    Full Member

    I’d be looking at a Carbon Wasp Truffle.

    Tempting as that is the sort of quirky off-piste option I’m normally here for! 😉

    That follows a friend literally just messaging me saying the Specialized is nice but too mainstream for you 😂

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    Another Occam fan here, but this time the LT. A non-LT Occam (140mm) would have been awesome for my local limited tech Rooty forest trails but I bought the LT to complement my lack of technical skills should I take it somewhere more challenging – my inspiration for that more-travel-fatter-tyred weekend away was always Tracey’s weekend photo’s.

    My LT is 150mm and despite that rides like a supportive trail bike. Without looking at the sag o-ring thingy sometimes I think my 100mm Spark is moving more than the Occam feels like it does. Great geo too, puts you forward for climbing making it even more capable for all day / trail rides.

    Often on offer at Sigma sports & MTB Monster, in fact Sigma have offers now…

    jonba
    Free Member

    Sounds more like upduro than down country 😉

    Loads of good suggestions on here. Spark is nice at the racier end. Love my canyon lux trail. But I think you want something a bit more beefy than either of those. The geometry might be ok but I wonder if they are build for the durability you’d want over the longer term.

    Don’t know what vitus offer in the 130-150 range. I’ve had their CX bikes and would look at their other offerings. Their trail bikes got good reviews.

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    If its good enough for him:

    (as if you didn’t have enough Occam content)

    swanny853
    Full Member

    Ibis Ripley? The Ripmo pedals so well I think I’d probably do a light build of one and have the travel when I wanted it, but the Ripley looks good.

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